Sam Carter and Alexandra Olivier are partners in life and business who’ve just realised a long held ambition to open a restaurant of their own. Chef Sam is in charge of the kitchen while Alex takes care of front of house and they both bring many years of experience at leading dining establishments to their new venture.
They’ve spent the past couple of months refurbishing this twenty two cover restaurant in Chesterton Road into a sophisticated and restful space, decorated in tones of grey with flickering tea lights and simple flowers on each table. Upstairs, there’s a cosy private dining room which seats fourteen people. Sam and his team serve a seven and a five course tasting menu, alongside an a la carte option and there’s a set lunch menu too.
My husband, Johnny, and I were lucky enough to bag a table for the restaurant’s soft opening at which they served their 7 Course Tasting Menu. It wasn’t long before I decided that this is a great way to eat … no indecisive scanning of menus, no food envy, just people bringing you plate after plate of fabulous food! Sam’s style is creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers. But it’s not just the flavours that Sam creates (always delectable) or the presentation of his dishes (always immaculate, as you can see from the photos through this post), it’s also the textures in each plate of his food which constantly surprise and excite.
Every course was wonderful but highlight dishes for me included
…. blow torched mackerel, the rich, oily fish perfectly paired with tangy buttermilk, wafer thin disks of stripey pickled beetroot, dotted with dill oil
…. a meltingly tender piece of braised lamb shoulder, almost like a confit, with sheep’s yoghurt, velvety carrot puree, tiny cubes of punchy mint jelly, topped with crispy carrot
…. rich, sweet, malty Guinness bread served with light whipped Guinness butter
…. the bright flavours of the palate cleansing pre-dessert, a lime and yoghurt panna cotta topped with a Yorkshire rhubarb jelly, hibiscus and refreshing cucumber sorbet
Sommelier Dan Smith is creating a really interesting wine list full of unusual finds. Johnny decided to go with Dan’s recommendations for the wine flight matched to the menu and was happy to discover new pairings, including
…. Dafni, a dry herbaceous white wine from Crete, with the mackerel
…. Tio Diego, a deep amber, bone dry amontillado sherry with the lamb
…. Le Barral, Rivesaltes Ambre, a sweet fortified wine from the South of France which was an excellent match for the chocolate, peanut and salted caramel dessert.
By the end of the evening, we were feeling pretty full (understatement!) but we squeezed in a Hot Numbers coffee for him and a green tea from The Kandula Tea Company for me, along with homemade whisky truffles and smooth vanilla fudge dotted with a sharp lemon sauce … Sam had our taste buds dancing until the very last bite.
As we tottered home, we agreed that we’re extremely lucky to have such exciting and superb cooking happening pretty much on our doorstep. Sam, Alex and their team have all the enthusiasm, skill and passion to make a huge success of Restaurant Twenty-Two and I have no doubt they will do just that. I only hope we can still get a table once the word gets out!
22 Chesterton Road, Cambridge CB4 3AX
Sam and Alex kindly invited me to join them at their opening party. The following evening, we ate and drank at Restaurant Twenty-Two at our own expense.